BMW's flagship sedan coddles passengers and simultaneously provides plenty of engagement for the driver. As expected in a luxury car of this caliber, creature comforts abound, as do engine choices that range from a relatively fuel-efficient 6-cylinder to a monstrous V12 and even a V8 hybrid.
You'll Like The 2012 BMW 7 Series If...
There's not a lot that's not to love about the 2012 BMW 7 Series. If you must regularly and quickly shuttle three NFL or NBA players in comfort, the longer “L” version of the 7 Series is an ideal choice.
You May Not Like The 2012 BMW 7 Series If...
Those who must have the latest version of a vehicle should wait until the updated 2013 BMW 7 Series arrives in the summer of 2012.
Changes from the 2011 BMW 7 Series are very minor. They include an iPod/USB adapter and a rear-view camera on all models. The 2012 7 Series is the last for this body style.
Owners of BMW 7 Series would be wise to memorize location and functions of its various controls before hitting the highway. We spent far too much time looking down into the cockpit – and away from the road ahead – attempting to use the controls for the sound system, adjustable suspension and navigation. Many switches are centered around the iDrive controller, which makes it difficult to select them by touch. While it's likely an owner would soon become familiar with the locations, other family members and casual drivers will be overwhelmed with options. Even the regular-length version offers more than adequate rear legroom.
The BMW 7 Series can’t match its smaller siblings for true sportiness, but those who want that image can select the M Sport option package, which adds sporty looking bodywork. xDrive versions have badges that let everyone know that this particular vehicle sends power to all four wheels and not just the rears. A curiosity: The xDrive badges have a capital "X" followed by “drive” in smaller letters. The Alpina B7 versions of the 2012 7 Series are easy to spot, thanks in part to 20-spoke, 21-inch-diameter wheels and front and rear spoilers.
The 2012 BMW 7 Series needs only a couple of things to make it the perfect open Interstate cruiser: a much higher speed limit (especially the V8 versions) and other drivers who stay right except to pass. A rural Interstate with a 70-mph speed limit allows but a glimpse of this sedan's abilities. The 750i is a prime example. Its taut suspension, precise steering and aerodynamic bodywork made the BMW 750i feel as if it was on a warm-up jog. The adjustable suspension, which comes standard on all 7 Series models, increased ride harshness without noticeably improving handling prowess. The most aggressive suspension setting disarms the electronic stability control, which is not a good idea in a car like the 750i as the 400-horsepower V8 can overwhelm the rear tires if the driver is harsh with the throttle. The BMW 7 Series was less stellar on curvy back roads: It’s a challenge to make two tons plus rapidly change directions.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the 2012 BMW 7 Series ranges from about $72,000 for the 6-cylinder 740i to almost $150,000 for the V12-powered 760Li. The V8-powered BMW 750i starts just above $85,000, while the 750Li xDrive can reach almost $127,000. A check of Kelly Blue Book’s Fair Purchase Prices shows that the 7 Series is selling at less than MSRP. While the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the 7 Series’ traditional rival, the sportier CLS-Class is a better match. The CLS-Class has a starting MSRP of just over $72,000, with the most-expensive models coming in just short of $100,000. The Audi A8 4.2 Quattro starts just under $80,000, while the A8 L W12 Quattro goes for about $162,000.
Our experts project that the BMW 7 Series’ residual value will challenge or surpass its high-end German opposition.
The 2012 BMW 7 Series is a large vehicle and the standard park distance control helps prevent dinging expensive bodywork. All BMW 7 Series come with a navigation system. Except for 6-cylinder models, the 7 Series comes standard with Nappa leather seating surfaces and 19-inch wheels. Door slamming is eliminated with an automatic, electric-motor-driven “soft close” feature, which is standard on all V8- and V12-equipped cars.
Great for today’s distracted drivers is the 2012 BMW 7 Series’ optional driver assistance package, which includes lane-departure warning, active blind-spot detection, and the head-up display of speed and navigation instructions. The M Sport package offers a choice of several 19- or 20-inch wheels fitted with performance tires. Also in the M Sport offering is a special steering wheel and aerodynamic add-on body parts. A stand-alone option is active cruise control, which is a very useful feature in heavy slow-and-go traffic.
The head-up display shows both vehicle speed and key navigation instructions on the windshield. Many who can afford a BMW 7 Series have older eyes and the head-up display eliminates time wasted changing focus from speedometer and navigation screen to the road ahead.
With a huge 450 lb-ft of torque available at a very low 1,700 rpm and a peak of 400 horsepower, the silky V8 in the BMW 750i is amazing. In the Alpina B7 version of the 7 Series, this engine makes 500 horsepower.
Under the Hood
An inline 3.0-liter 6-cylinder, a 4.4-liter V8 and a 6.0-liter V12, all turbocharged, are offered in the 2012 BMW 7-Series. Three versions of V8 are available. In the BMW 750i, 750Li and 750i xDrive and 750Li xDrive, the V8 reaches a peak of 400 horsepower. When massaged by Alpina for the B7, the V8 reaches impressive peaks of 500 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. The Alpina B7 is offered in both regular and long wheelbase version and in rear- and all-wheel drive. The V12 and ActiveHybrid models have 8-speed automatic transmissions, while the others have 6-speed automatics.
740i and 740Li
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6
315 horsepower @ 5,800-6,000 rpm
330 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25 mpg
750i, 750i xDrive, 750Li and 750Li xDrive
4.4 liter turbocharged V8
400 horsepower @ 5,500-6,400 rpm
450 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22 mpg (750i), 14/22 mpg (750Li), 14/20 (750i xDrive and 750Li xDrive)
ActiveHybrid 750i and ActiveHybrid 750Li
4.4 liter turbocharged V8; electric motor: 20 horsepower, 155 lb-ft of torque
455 horsepower @ 5,500-6,000 rpm (total combined)
515 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-3,000 rpm (total combined)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26 mpg
4.4 liter turbocharged V8
500 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
516 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000-4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/22 mpg
6.0 liter turbocharged V12
535 horsepower @ 5,250-6,000 rpm
550 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/19 mpg
With more than a dozen versions, including two lengths, three engines, two hybrid variants, available all-wheel drive, and a performance-oriented quartet from Alpina, the 2012 BMW 7 Series sedan offers something for most every very affluent buyer. Adjustable suspension and steering allows 7 Series owners to tune the car to their changing moods. Prices for the 6-cylinder BMW 740i start just over $70,000, while a V12-powered BMW 760Li can run past $140,000. Rivals for the 7 Series include both the S-Class and CLS-Class from Mercedes-Benz, the Lexus LS 460 and the Audi A8.